The journey of writing 100 blog posts, and the lessons I learned along the way…
As I drafted my last post, I noticed my counter was at 100. I have posted over 100 blog posts… I couldn’t really believe it when I noticed it, but since that moment I have been reflecting on this bizarrely delightful hobby of blogging.
I’ve been writing since I can remember. Before I could spell most words, I wanted to use them to craft stories. In the second grade, I tried to hire my friend as an employee to be my illustrator, so I could focus on writing.
Needless to say, I didn’t become a prodigy of children’s books. Though I did continue writing throughout school, eventually sticking on Poetry for a long time.
As an adult, I found myself having piles of old poetry sitting in my former notebooks. More and more bits of new poetry ideas, and rambling thoughts were coming to me, and I felt like they were wasted not going anywhere.
With an education in computer programming, I knew I wanted to start a blog website. I did not spend long thinking about the name. I had actually had it in mind since the eighth grade, and luckily the domain was available. It didn’t take me long to get the site off the ground and delivering my meandering wanderings and poetic ponderings.
It has been a few years since InTakeCreate went live, and in that time it has changed a few times as I tried to figure out what I wanted to write. After writing 100 blog posts, I have managed to learn a few things that I think are worth sharing.
- Good Writing is better than perfect formatting.
- You have to publish bad stuff. Accepting that makes this easier.
- Having a Goal for Each Post Makes Them Happen
Good Writing vs Perfect Formatting
The craft vs the container
One lesson I had to learn – and continue to learn on a regular basis – is to not put so much stock in a unique and perfect format. Early on in my posting, I was spending hours formatting each piece. The words came to me easily, but the formatting eluded me for one simple reason.
I was trying too much and too hard.
I thought my post would be better with inline images, long paragraphs, multi-colored headers, and more questionable design choices.
For every post I queued up, I was making tweaks and changes to the spacing until I thought it was perfect. I would hit the ever-intimidating “Publish” button, and nervously load up the page to see the final product beautifully laid out how I had envisioned.
This came crashing down on me when my wife actually showed me one of my posts on mobile. Oh the horror… Nothing was in place. The first letter of each paragraph had been squeezed onto its own line due to the inline images, and my text was hard to read.
I knew I had to tackle this issue, and get my posts looking good every time and without the mountainous effort involved. So I started reading. And reading. And reading. I read blogs about any and all topics, and dissected their formatting. Comparing all of these other blogs to each other and I noticed what helped them be so easy to read.
All of the blogs I was reading were easy to read because the format was simple.
How to Format a Blog Post
I could still spend hours formatting and getting things perfectly placed, but that’s not what I am trying to do. I am trying to be a writer. Writer’s typically write a lot of content, but I didn’t have time to after so much formatting.
Moving my formatting to a simple, natural layout was what I needed to do.
- Full Width Images, above headers.
- Quote out the notable bits for the “skimmers”.
- Section Headers with Descriptive titles – let the reader know what’s in the next section.
- Let your words speak for themself.
By focusing on the writing instead of the formatting, I allow myself more time to write the next post and crucially let my words speak for themselves.
If the words are good, the formatting barely matters. If the words are bad, the formatting won’t help.
So, what do you do if the words are bad? Good Question.
Publish the Bad Stuff, too
Every blogger writes some bad articles. Authors, no matter how esteemed, write a bad book. Every newspaper publishes a bad crossword every now and then… It is part of the job, and is completely natural when you are creating at your top speed.
The sooner you accept your bad work, the sooner you find your good work.
I’m a Canadian on the tail end of the Winter season, so allow me to settle into a snow shoveling metaphor.
Keep Writing Until The Car Can Move…
A common theme for Canadian mornings is a nervous peek out of the early morning windows. Bracing for how much snow you are about to see surrounding your car at 6am…
With fresh coffee tinging the air, you take a deep breath and prepare yourself for some early morning shoveling in order to get that car to work. Sending scoop after scoop over your shoulder, clearing your path.
In a perfect world, every single draw of snow from the shovel would be at max capacity and I would utilize perfect form to send it careening into the piles forming elsewhere. Though in reality, that is far from what happens.
In reality, the scoop is rarely full to max capacity. Instead, I choose to just toss it as it is and move onto the next one. I don’t always pay enough attention to my form on the lift, and sometimes I pay a price for that. When I feel my back tighten, I know I have to stop and take a breather in order to properly focus on my posture.
The exact same is true for writing.
Each piece I work on is another shovel of snow. Of course, I aim to get as much great content on each scoop but there are times where that just doesn’t happen. What good would it do dumping it back in front of me?
Send it into the snowbank of published work. Take a breather to refocus if needed, and get the next scoop. Keep publishing until you can get your car out of the driveway.
To really beat this dead horse of a metaphor, that car is your writing career. Keep it moving forward.
Writing 100 Blog posts should have taught me this, but I am still learning that sometimes it takes some focus, and a clear goal set to keep it moving too.
Set an Intention for Each Post
While simply saying “Keep it moving forward.” is easy, it’s very different to actually put that in practice.
There are times when the next post in my queue is a complete mystery. Other times I know what it is, but it feels directionless. A clear solution for this is to ensure that each post has a defined intention. By setting a goal for the post, it manifests itself around the gravitational pull of that focus.
For example, the intention of this post – hopefully – is to interest you with my blogging process enough that you follow me on Twitter, where I talk about it a lot. Or to follow my monthly Newsletter where I curate the things inspiring me that month.
One of my recent posts, 5 Best Creativity Podcasts, was designed to directly link to these podcast’s that I really liked, and to link to them on social media hoping to brush shoulders with large-following accounts.
Clear intentions are much more solid that rough ideas.
Here’s to 100 More
I still have a hard time actually comprehending the fact that I have spent 3 years writing 100 blog posts. I didn’t lean into a whole lot of monetization, I simply just wanted to write more and reclaim the hobby. Now, I can look back and look ahead and happily proclaim that I am a writer without doubting myself.
There are a lot more plans in the works for InTakeCreate, so follow along on Twitter and Instagram while I figure it all out.